Category: Uncategorized

Montana

“Oceans of diamonds always shine, smooth out below” MorningBeck                                         img_2247img_2208

From the time I was 12 years old and had watched, “A River Runs Through it” and witnessed so many other films covering Montana, my heart yearned deeply to witness this beauty that so many call, “God’s Country”. Trust me when I say, this IS God’s Country. If you are looking to find solace from the everyday torment of work, politics, drama, social media and anything else that may be causing you stress, this is the place to go. When we entered Montana my heart beat heavily. With eager eyes and my head smushed against the van’s glass window my need to jump out of the van and experience the air and everything that was Montana grew rapidly and without ceasing. I begged dad to stop the van and so he did. I stepped out onto the road that quickly turned into grass to witness this miracle that God had created. We looked around and my heart swelled.

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There was a stream at every turn and at every other turn people were fly fishing just like what was depicted in “A River Runs Through It”:). Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of this as they were so far away that they wouldn’t show up in the picture had I actually taken one. I couldn’t believe how everything I was seeing with my own eyes looked just like what I had seen in movies. You always think that movies make things look better than what they are OR they take away from what they really are. In this case it was everything I thought it would plus more. The beauty of this is unparalleled.

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We even stopped to get some pics of ourselves 🙂

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Oh! Look’s like Miriam has the selfie stick this time! *hehe* 🙂

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Everything looks like an image out of a book. It looks and feels so unreal. It’s just one continuous jaw dropper. And if you’re not convinced wait until you check out my blog post on Glacier National Park!

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As we were driving by the railroad tracks, I felt transported back to the early 1900’s envisioning a time when trains were a steady means of transportation along with the horse and sometimes a car. I could just hear the train’s horn blowing as the passengers leisurely gaze out the window at their surroundings never knowing that there would someday be airplanes, portable telephones and what we have come so desperately to depend on: the internet. Life was more simpler back then and I wonder if sometimes all of this technology we have now really is good for us. It’s something to ponder.

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Dad, forever patiently waiting for me to get every single last picture I could muster. 😉

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To me this is the second most beautiful place on earth. I’ve never grown up in the mountains and never saw real mountains until I went to Washington. Besides the paradise that I grew up in (river & ocean), this would be my other choice in complete equivalence, though different scenery. It truly is God’s country.

The 4th in Aberdeen

“She couldn’t help thinkin’ that there was a little more to life somewhere else. After all it was a great big world with lots of places to run to and if she had to die tryin’ she had one little promise she was gonna keep.” American GirlTom Petty and the Heartbreakers

During the 4th of July, most all of America is up and running. People are gathering with their families to roast hot dogs, hamburgers, eat Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and basically enjoy all things American. In Belhaven, where I’m from, they PARTICULARLY LOVE and celebrate the 4th with major festivities. They start off the day before with a Miss Independence Padgent then move into a “Street Dance” that lasts until very late. People dance the night away and have a great time. Then the next day there’s quite a large parade with festivities around every corner and booths to buy lots of cool junk. Up the road from this, there is a famous “Mud Run” where trucks are forced into the mud with their tires-a-spinning and the redneck in every one of us flying. You could say Belhaven is pretty hoppin’. But there’s one thing that can make all of this not worth the effort and that’s THE HEAT! One of the sayings go, “It’s hotter than the Belhaven 4th of July’s in here!” That’s when you know it’s hot! LOL So…this year I took great satisfaction in enjoying our day of independence in the nice 78 degree weather that was Aberdeen WA. :p

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Everyone gathered together: Me, mom, dad, sister, nieces, cousins, cousin’s girlfriends and children. We feasted on some wonderful dishes: watermelon, cheese/summer sausage and crackers, pasta salads of all kinds, crab salad, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, cookies, WA cherries and other fruits. We played “Washers” (which is something like cornhole I suppose) and were just all around merry. Check these guys out. Dad (on the left) is attempting to explain something in the best of ways. Tommy (my cousin on the right) of course looks confused, but I assure you he’s not. Though he may be deciphering the white man’s speak.

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It was really great because I got to hang out with my cousin Chris. This summer’s trip was the first time I’ve seen him since I was 13 years old. I have great memories of those times. I met him and a lot of other relatives at a family reunion in Cowden Illinois (look for that post to come). He was 18 then and now we’re both in our 30’s. My how time flies!

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We really were having a great time. It was the first time in many years that I’ve really enjoyed myself. There was no heat really and it seemed like the most simplest, easiest action to just put food out and hang with the family!

Now, let me say that Belhaven puts on a nice little firework show at 9 p.m. It’s nice. BUT, in North Carolina, only cities can administer big fireworks. They’re illegal for residents to just shoot them off (or at least some are). In WA State…THEY’RE LEGAL! This town and every other town is lit up with explosions. Here, there, EVERYWHERE they shoot them off. Fireworks had been blasting off for days before the 4th actually came around. So naturally, Chris being the dude he is went and bought a lot of fireworks so we could have our own firework show!

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Everyone was ready to kick it off! Even the kid.

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It was so funny because he set all the chairs up in a row to watch the fire show commence. Hey look! It’s Kenny again! LOL

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These fireworks weren’t just some run-of-the-mill fireworks. These were the BIG ones!

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It was so exciting even I decided to try my hand at it. I lit several off. I have to tell you I was a little nervous to start with but after that it was all in good fun! After the show commenced we were all lit up; on the inside as well as outside. I know I definitely was. Yes, that IS a sweater. The nights are cold in Aberdeen.

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Our 4th of July celebration was a hit and I’d LOVE to do it every year. I do love America. God bless our soldiers and all of those who fought for us to be free! We know it comes at a price. We love you and will always support you.

The Loop Pt.1

“Big red tree grew up and out, throws up its leaves, spins round and round.” Feed the Tree – Belly

Let me apologize again for my lack of posting. I didn’t realize what traveling would entail when it came to what little time you have to really reflect. My plan was to always keep the blog updated at least every day or every other day. Unfortunately with 10 people and many places to visit, you find yourself DOING more than BEING. There’s been a lot of spontaneous activities that occur and with everyone having an agenda it gets hectic. See Traveling Realities for more info on our living situation.

So “The Loop” is an interesting travel. I’ve been hearing about it from my mother and father how I just HAD to do the loop and I have to say it was pretty awesome! So basically you start from Aberdeen on Hwy 101 and drive up to the Peninsula and then back down to Aberdeen again all on Hwy 101. It looks something like this:

Aberdeen > Quinault > Ruby Beach > Crescent Lake > Forks > Port Angeles > Sequim > Port Townsend > Hood Canal > Shelton > then back to Aberdeen.

This isn’t a day trip, it takes roughly 2 days to make it. If you wanted to see all of the sites then it would take maybe 3 days. We stayed one night in Port Angeles giving us two days to check everything out.

So we headed North on 101 to explore the loop. We first came into Quinault. It’s so beautiful because it’s a rainforest area that’s heavily wooded and just beautiful.

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This is also one of several Native American Reservations. *Just incase you’re not familiar with reservations; they are run and manned by Native Americans and are separate from our Federal Government. They have their own laws and rules (but work with our government) on many things. Their goods are cheaper on the reservation than outside due to either low or no taxes. Also, every reservation I’ve seen, thus far, has a casino on it. This is due to the fact that gambling is illegal in the state of Washington but since the reservation is separate from our federal government, that law does not apply to them. I don’t know why, but for whatever reason I somehow like this idea; maybe it’s due to how they were pushed off of their land and now they get some of it back and are capable of living however they would like? Nothing will make up for what was done to them in the past but somehow I feel like at least they’re getting something.*

The air is very moist and damp but not unpleasant. It feels more refreshed than anything. The moss grows heavily in the wooded areas and it really is neat. We decided to tour the “World’s Record Sitka Spruce” tree and that was SO pretty. You have to walk down a trail to get to it but it’s worth it.

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“World’s Largest Spruce Tree. 58′ 11″ Circumference / 191′ Tall / 922 AFA Points (American Forest Associations) / About 1000 Years Old. This is a Sitka Spruce, one of the Quinault Valley’s six champion trees. The trees in the Quinault Rainforest are well watered with an average rainfall of 12 feet a year. There is a Spruce in Oregon that has 902 AFA points, that they named a co-chamption. Also in the Valley are the World’s Largest Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir & Mountain Hemlock. The U.S. largest Yellow Cedar & Western Hemlock.” (from the info at the Sitka Spruce tree site by Rain Forest Resort Village).

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So this entire area is just beautiful and a little mysterious and enchanted at the same time. It looks like those pictures out of a storybook. I was definitely under it’s spell…in a good way 😉

When you get out of the wooded area of Quinault you come upon an opening to view the lake!

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These places are so beautiful along the way! We have seen some things that weren’t worth seeing and I don’t ever post about those because honestly…they’re not worth knowing about. LOL At this point I was so into the trip and just snapping pictures everywhere!

We hit the road and drove away from Quinault and came upon the “Big Cedar Tree”.

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It seems as though something happened to the tree because part of it split off and fell down. Maybe it was hit with lightning? I don’t know. Even still, the tree is LARGE!

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Oh, and here’s this guy trying to get the PERFECT photo.

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I would have to say that this portion of WA is quite…enchanting. 🙂

Mt. Rainier

“Comin’ down the mountain. One of many children. Everybody has their own opinion…” Mountain SongJane’s Addiction

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Like most fantastic sites to see, Mt. Rainier is coming in hot on the “fantastic sites” meter. Boy what a huge volcanic mountain! I tell you, along with Mount St. Helens this place is just as enormous and wonderous! One thing I noticed after we left, was how mysterious Mt. Rainier is! It’s this huge, gigantic mountain that seems like it has its own personality.

While we’ve been here it feels like I’ve been “chasing” this mountain for weeks now. You can see the mountain from hours away because of how large it is. We can see it here in Aberdeen, which is about 3 hours away. You can definitely see it from Seattle, 2 hours away and so it seems as though in specific spots you can see the peak or part of this amazing wonder. However, at times it has been hidden by fog, clouds or darkness; the one time I got to see it before we actually went to it was on the Bremerton ferry to Seattle (check out Seattle Part 1 to see what I’m talking about). This elusiveness kind of gives it an interesting trait. It’s like it’s playing a game with you and knows you want to see it but won’t come out until it feels sorry for you and only then will it let you glimpse at it. But on the flip side, it seems to be quite visible from every direction – thus giving it it’s elusiveness. It only took a couple of hours to arrive at Mt. Rainier and so, like most of the attractions, there are many pull-offs you can stop at to get out and take pictures. On route you can see that everything is quite rustic: the cabins, houses, food places etc. It’s not only rustic but it’s VERY green! Along the way you can see moss growing on all the trees inside of the forest area. And no, this is not spanish moss.

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Whenever I end up in a spot so beautiful that I have to make an image, I say to myself, “Gosh I want everyone to see this.” And so it goes that I have to show you this beautiful image with the light busting through and hanging over the trees and spilling onto the little walkway.

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That was our first stop coming into Mt. Rainier. Our next stop was directly in the national park. You do have to pay to go through it:

  • Vehicles: $20
    Motorcycles/ Walk-In/Bicycles: $10
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There are four entrances to Mt. Rainier, we went in through the “Paradise” side. It’s not as beautiful as the “Sunrise” side but it was still beautiful…as you can see 🙂

We kept on going until we reached a place where we could have a nice picnic. We had quite the caravan with us; 10 people. But we found a place – a NICE place!

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Here are some of the picnic crew.

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What you DON’T see is that FANTASTIC “Yeti” cooler to the left-hand side of the image. That cooler is the end all, be all to coolers! I highly recommend it. My friend Kelly and her husband Heath have one and swear by it. We do as well. It has kept our food cool for at least 4 days like it was the first day! We haven’t gone longer than 4 days but we will find out when we go camping at the Clearwater if it can keep the cool longer.

You would have thought I was the paparazzi the way I was snapping pictures (and I’m sure you can tell from the images above). It’s the same mountain just different angles. LOL, it was so magnificent I just want no one to miss anything!

Info on the Mountain:

*In Mt. Rainier, 97% of the park is wilderness and is protected from development. It became an official national park in 1899. It’s an active volcano and has repeated eruptions! When it erupts again they say it could be devastating. Geologists also say that Lahars will be the devastation that comes from the eruption (a slew of material looking like wet concrete).

Engineers designed the roads specifically for view and not by how easy it would be. Even though these roads are nice to drive on, it’s because of the winter snow and ice that much of the park is inaccessible. They say that sometimes you can hear the glaciers pop and crack as they move as well as avalanches! Another thing that I thought was pretty neat was that the mountain creates its own weather system. I think that’s clever. I never knew that.*

We finally arrived at the visitors center at “Paradise Inn”.

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This is the final stop to see her in all her glory.

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These signs are plastered all over the picnic tables throughout the entire drive up:

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These are obvious warnings but if you’re unfamiliar, wildlife inhabit this entire national park and so when you picnic, you are not picnicking alone. 😉 Somewhere there is a bear smelling your food like Yogi and wanting to get your “Pic-a-nic Basket!” Just make sure he doesn’t have a sidekick named “Boo Boo” or you may have bigger problems than wildlife.

When you leave the visitors center, just a little ways down there is an area named, “Packwood” where there sits a BEAUTIFUL little waterfall and a nice tall view.

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I thought it was kind of neat how the wind had blown in just one direction that the branches permanently face this way.

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And of course, there is the tallness of everything that really puts you in your place.

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Traveling Realities

“Think of what I’m saying. We can work it out and get it straight, or say good night.” We Can Work It Out The Beatles 

This will be a quick one but it’s something I wanted to share. Not everything is perfect and I like for people to know the not so happy things as well as the happy ones. That is what keeps things real and genuine.

Traveling obviously is a big adventure and there are thrills that are beyond the norm so of course that’s why we travel. However, traveling is not without some sort of difficulty. Unless you’re traveling alone you are bound to have mishaps or unhappy moments with those who accompany you.

Let me first explain the relationships and then I will explain the living arrangement during our time here in Washington. My sister and brother, by blood, are my half siblings. We share the same mother but not the same father. However, there has never been a time where I have felt them to be a, “half” sibling. We are all a family and all I have ever known are them. My father IS their father and he is all they have ever known of a father. They were very young when he came into their lives. With that being said, my brother and sister connected with their biological father’s family around 2008. It opened up a whole new world for them and they connected with a family they never knew. They gained so much from that experience, especially my sister.

My sister moved here to Aberdeen (my mother’s hometown), and currently stays with her uncle until she can become settled. He has been kind enough to let me and my mother and father stay here during our visit. Altogether, there are 8 people who are currently living in Ken’s house. LOL that’s A LOT of people: Myself, my mom, my dad, Evy (my sister), Ken, Rayann (my niece), Hayley (my niece) and Ken’s daughter Kaycee. There are four bedrooms but the house, for the most part is quite small (I’m not sure of the square footage) and there is only one usable shower. So I hope you can kind of visualize what we’re working with.

This leads me to the “mishaps” and “unhappy moments”. I would say that it was difficult traveling with my mom and dad, but that would be a lie. I love them immensely and they really don’t do anything that would warrant too much irritation or frustration. I, on the other hand can be a “pill” (southern term for cranky or unhappy). I can’t really tell you why, but I suppose certain things pick at my nerves or have a tendency to annoy me? So I will say that some of that frustration is due on my part. However, I realize when I’m doing it so I attempt to bring my irritations to halt and commence to be easier to get along with. But this is all normal and if you’re expecting to get along with everyone you’re traveling with all the time I think you may be living in a dream world, or you’ve just been really lucky.

When we initially arrived at Ken’s house, there were many stresses that each person in the house was facing (minus us). My sister, Ken Hayley and Rayann were all finishing up the end of their school semester; Rayann with High School, Evy and Kenny with college and Hayley with 9th grade. Emotions were high and adjusting to the housing dynamic was rough! I can tell you that some words were exchanged and tempers flared. You must also take into consideration that everyone in this family is HIGHLY opinionated. No one is leaving without stating their opinions. Myself included. 😉

It definitely took about 2 weeks to REALLY become adjusted with everything: the sleeping arrangements, social dynamic of the house, friends and family coming over and meeting them, functions etc etc. By the way, my sleeping arrangement is currently with 5 early twenties-ish British boys in a slightly small room. I’m talking about this band “One Direction”. They are currently the favorite band of my 14 yr old niece Hayley, of who’s room I’m currently inhabiting. They are literally ALL OVER her walls. They look at me every night as I go to sleep and I can’t help but feel a little…intruded on? They’re starring at me constantly. It’s so creepy.

I know everyone sees all of the really great and happy wonderful things that we’re doing and they ARE happy and wonderful! We’re having a blast, don’t get me wrong, but no travel is without some sort of discomfort or frustration. So we definitely have had our trials since we’ve been here but it worked itself out and everyone is good to go. 🙂

Seattle Part 1

“You’re the one thing I can’t get enough of. So I’ll tell you something, this could be love because I’ve had the time of my life.” I’ve Had, The Time Of My Life Bill Medley

Seattle….it was love at first site…and boy, WHAT A SITE!

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My dad kept saying, “I’m interested to see how Heather reacts to Seattle”. Well, I can tell you I absolutely FELL IN LOVE. This is the COOLEST, most fantastic city that I’ve seen thus far! Words cannot even describe how awesome and friendly this place is. This city was meant for me!

We got off to kind of late start but headed toward the Bremerton Ferry. It crosses the Puget Sound and takes you directly into Seattle. Check out the video of us boarding the boat: Boarding Bremerton Ferry

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The view is just beautiful and picturesque during the entire ride.

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I mean, the water is beautiful but what can top it? Oh I don’t know, maybe Mt. Ranier! It’s hard to see it in this image but it’s so clear when you’re on the ferry looking at it.

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Oh and just to let you know, this ferry ride is a little chilly! It’s summer, but it’s chilly.

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I will tell you, riding the ferry IS the way to see Seattle for the first time. If you were thinking about driving in, DON’T! Ride the ferry because when you peer around the corner, it’s at that precise moment that you can see the city of Seattle and something happens. This amazing feeling floods over you and it feels spectacular.

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You can see the CenturyLink Field upon entering Seattle. It’s the home stadium of the Seattle Seahawks, and houses concerts along with other events.

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It is such a phenomenal view!

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We had finally arrived and my heart was pulsing with excitement and readiness. So we knew that we only had pretty much a half a day to see what we could so we started in Pike Place since that’s where you arrive at when you get off the ferry.

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The First Starbucks (est. 1971)

We had agendas, and the first one happened to be the very first Starbucks. Check out this video of some really great bluegrass musicians set up outside of Starbucks: Street Musicians

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The line was WAY too long to get in. I did purchase a couple of coffee mugs. I’m of the understanding that at one point the mugs sold in that specific Starbucks were exclusive to that store and could only be purchased at that store. Unfortunately it seems as though you can purchase the same mugs on ebay and a couple of other places on the web (probably due to people purchasing them from the store and then reselling them). It’s a bit more expensive but you can still buy them. It kind of takes the fun out of it ya know? Anyway, I was glad I purchased them and have that token memory. 🙂

Public Farmers Market

We tightly weaved in and out of the foot traffic as we made our way down the narrow isles of the market. There were TONS of people and it was a bit crowded but we ended up at the Public Farmers Market…you know, the place where they throw the fish! I apologize in advance, I didn’t realize it was turned sideways, but check out the video anyway: Farmers Market

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This video isn’t turned sideways (thank goodness) but they are throwing the fish: Throwing Fish at Farmers Market  They weren’t officially throwing fish at that moment but decided to do so for all of us tourists 🙂 That was nice. I also thought this sign was nice, “We only sell wild salmon caught by wild fishermen”. Very funny and cute!

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I can’t tell you exactly how I felt seeing this. It would be like watching a movie that you were really in to and you’ve always loved, then at some point in life you were thrust into the very movie while they were making it. It’s like you’re star struck or something. It’s hard to explain. I’m standing there watching these guys do what I’ve seen them do in T.V. shows, movies, documentaries etc. It’s just a really neat experience and I’m so happy I witnessed it.

Gum Wall

Just around the corner from the Farmers Market is the famous “Gum Wall” which has tons of pieces of chewing gum stuck to the walls.  According to Wikipedia the tradition began around 1993 when patrons of Unexpected Productions’ Seattle Theatresports stuck gum to the wall and placed coins in the gum blobs. Theater workers scraped the gum away twice, but eventually gave up after the market officials deemed the gum wall a tourist attraction around 1999. My thoughts…it’s pretty disgusting.

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Eeew. Yuk.

There are street musicians around every corner. These two were perched next to a neat mural.

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Ride the Ducks Tour

So we were definitely looking to take a tour, ESPECIALLY since this tour ride is in a bus/boat! That’s right, a bus/boat. It is a bus on land but turns into a boat when you go into the water! I was totally intrigued, so we got our tickets and hopped aboard, or whatever.

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Our driving was very entertaining (I think all of them are). There weren’t a lot of facts and history provided but it was extremely entertaining. Check out these videos: Fantastic VoyageCarly Rae Jepsen

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Dad liked it but I don’t think it was his cup of tea. 🙂 .

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You can purchase these little duck callers or toys at the gate and then when you get on the tour the driver tells you to quack them when he gives you the signal. It’s really silly but a lot of fun. Well eventually we were bound to go in the water. Look at this video to see it: Duck Boat Ride Also, I think I may have done a Cosby face in this. LOL

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This was the MOST entertaining ride I’ve had when touring a city or place. It was so enjoyable and the Captain was really cool. Oh yeah, also, he was on the show The Deadliest Catch in 2005! He used to be a fisherman, but it was so dangerous doing that career that he left that job and decided to stay alive and be a tour guide. He was very nice and I hope when I take Miriam (my niece) to Seattle we will get his bus again. 🙂

5 Point Cafe & Bar

We decided to wrap up the day with some good grub from a local restaurant/cafe/bar that’s pretty iconic and has some good food. This place has been here for 85 years and is the oldest running family eatery in Seattle. Some rock stars and VIPS have been thrown out of the restaurant. This is the type of restaurant that does NOT cater to anyone. They are not, “The customer is always right” kind of place. Apparently the idea is: if you act like a jerk, then you get treated like a jerk. Not to mention there is a sign located somewhere that says, “We cheat tourists-n-drunks since 1929”.  I couldn’t even tell you if they put that into play (which I’m sure they do) because I didn’t look at the tab for any discrepancies. I would venture to guess that they did so we just wont go there again. LOL Honestly I’m not interested in getting cheated. They have a cool place, and that’s nice but I’m not about to go back and get cheated, potentially a second time.

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Unfortunately we did not get to do the Space Needle tour. By the time we got around to doing it the next shuttle was going up at 10:15 p.m. and we just couldn’t stay that late. We will go up the next visit which will be in a couple of weeks with my niece. That’s why this is part 1 🙂

So for anyone who has been to Seattle, what are some other great restaurants to go to? I’d really like something local and authentic that WON’T cheat me out of my money.  What do we HAVE to do or see? We plan on doing the underground tour, Ride the Ducks, Ride the Monorail, and go up in the Space Needle. I’d like to get some feedback of any kind! Please comment below 🙂

Mount St. Helens

“Giving up a verse the curse occurs a thirst to burst first breaking through the center of the universe” Freak Out311

Before I tell you about this amazing thing called Mount St. Helens, I have to let you all know that I’ve been sick with some sort of cold, which is why I haven’t posted in several days. I may have picked it up from my niece or from something else, either way I’m sick and am currently on the mend. I feel better than I did a week ago but am not sure if I’m going to get better without seeing a doctor. Hopefully I will kick this and be ready for anything! So here’s to feeling better! *raises imaginary champagne glass*

Have you ever seen how small you are compared to this world? Or have you ever thought about how tiny we are compared to the earth below our feet and above our head? I have. I have thought about it before. I never really had anything to compare myself to except for the ocean. I always looked at the ocean and thought about how small I was…until this past Saturday when we visited Mount St. Helens. For the first time in 34 years, I felt/saw/experienced how small I really was.

Mom, dad, Rayann, Hayley and I all took the drive over to Mount St. Helens with eager anticipation. For me I was very exited but like everything else on this trip it was an empty canvas waiting for a paintbrush and paint. I have always heard of this place from my mom. I also knew that it had erupted in 1980 (one year before I was born). Because of the stories and knowing about it, naturally I would be curious, thus propelling eagerness into motion.

We stopped in Oakville and had lunch at a place called “Loretta Eagan’s Diner”. A little hole in the wall burger place was completely okay with us. Sometimes I prefer them to bigger nicer restaurants because they usually have that down home taste! Have you ever watched that T.V. show, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri? He definitely provides inspiration and courage for me to test out some of these not-so-popular dives! It’s funny but why not right? Just as I thought, the food was GREAT! It was like having home cooked food and we enjoyed it!

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We continued our trip and the scenery was fantastic. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was to see. When we arrived at the visitors center at Mount St Helens, there…sitting quite perfectly displayed was Mount St. Helens.

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You can tell that they purposefully cut out this, well…hole like thing for you to view the mountain! I thought it was perfect and was much obliged to the people who did so. It’s a great image. And of course we had to get the family in there 🙂

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As I stated in a previous post, I used to be so worried about looking like a tourist when I was on vacation, but honestly, that’s what you are! You’re a tourist. I felt so much like one when one of the employees jumped in and made us get together for this picture. I didn’t even have to ask. After it’s all said and done, I will be so thankful that I have these images to remind me of that day 🙂 So I honestly don’t mind at all. Where’s my fanny pack?

There was a show playing in the theater inside of the center that really gave you a nice detailed footage of what happened in 1980! I don’t have that footage but I’ve found a video on YouTube that tells you what actually happened that day. Check it out here: Mount St Helens Eruption

Once I watched the video I was HOOKED! The last experience that hooked me was when I went to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. It literally changed my life. After I went through and saw what I saw, some sort of passion was ignited in my heart and I took interest immediately. I kind of feel the same thing has happened here. After being here and seeing this volcanic, living, breathing thing, I am wanting to know more and more!

Here are the images they had in the visitors center. You can see the sequence of the eruption. It started at 8:32:38 (I believe), then 8:32:47 > 8:32:49 > 8:32:53 > 8:33:03 > 8:33:18.8

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HOW AMAZING! Look at that burst! It’s just crazy. Mount St. Helens had 3 small phreatic eruptions in 1893, 1902 and 1921. It had been quiet since the mid-1800’s. Apparently 123 years of no activity is a long time for us, but according to geologic time, that’s just a “nap”. At 3:37 p.m. an earthquake, measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale hit, coming directly from beneath Mount St. Helens. Then there was another earthquake and then another one which led scientist to believe that this volcano was waking up. So, these earthquakes eventually led to the first eruption of Mt. St. Helens. It ejected steam and ash along with rock fragments and ice blocks on the slopes of the volcano. Within hours of the first eruption, residents within a 15-mile radius of the volcano were advised to leave. Because of the continued activity, the Governor of Washington issued a State of Emergency. Craters had formed and eventually a “bulge” formed on the north flank of the volcano (probably due to magma rising in the volcano). They used comparisons of the pictures taken in 1979 of the mountain to see what kind of differences were happening with this bulge and found that it had grown outward and upward about 250 feet as of April 12, 1980 – and it continued to grow 5 to 7 feet per day since April 25th. During this time people were to have evacuated, but after a period of time of nothing happening, they started letting people back in to get their things or do what they needed to do. On May 18th, the volcano erupted. The “bulge” had exploded sending ash and rock rolling down the side of the mountain. Some witnesses said they saw lightning bolts shooting through the ash.

I would like to take this time out to draw some attention to a guy named, David Johnston, who was a Geological Survey Geologist who died during this eruption. His name is continuously brought up during videos and in information given to you on this volcanic mountain. He died doing his job and for some reason I just really admire that. His famous words, “Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it!” seems to ring many times through the tour of the visitors center and is pretty famous when talking about Mount St. Helens. The pictures above are his images and are displayed in the visitors center. He last radioed in at 8:32 which was when it happened. (All info stated above is from the visitors center at Mount St. Helens)

After the visitors center we drove up to Johnston’s Ridge (named after David Johnston) to see her up close and personal. We stopped at a pull off before Johnston and got a couple of great shots as well as some along the way.

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You know that this is tourist attraction when the local chipmunk comes up to you begging for food. LITERALLY, the chipmunk saw us, ran up to us (about 1 foot away), stood on the stone wall and did all but ask, “Do you have any food for me?”. LOL I swear, when he stood up on his hind legs, if he could have spoken, that’s what he would have asked. So funny and cute.

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Johnston’s Ridge is the up close and personal view.

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You can see, directly in the center where the explosion happened. It used to be a mountain at one time but now is looks a bit open. I found a before image for you to see (taken from Wikipedia).

Helens before

The visuals of the mountain are just insane. I think that’s what really blows my mind. That is what makes you feel small.  A mass of ash and rock, reaching heights of 50,000 ft. can really put you in your place. People who were 35 miles away from the mountain said they felt a temperature increase of 30 to 40 degrees higher than usual. What can do that? I can blow air out of my mouth and it may reach a foot away from me? I am an ANT in a wilderness of monumental size. God’s creation is so fantastic that to think this all happened just by chance, to me, is a foolish idea indeed.